Poet Adrian Mitchell dies, aged 76

A poet of the left, attacked by people of the right for politicising poetry (as if Shakespeare was not political!) but in my book a brilliant poet who combined sincere passion with great technique. At the legendary poetry gig at the Royal Albert Hall, London ('68 I believe) with Allen Ginsberg and many others, it was Adrian Mitchell who stole the show. Deployed imagery, rhyme, devastating observation and a control of dramatic impact in the service of (his) truth.
Here for your delectation & delight is his anti-Vietnam war poem. Employing repetition and banal rhyme to devastating effect, the first 2 lines still encapsulate in a nutshell something I'd felt for years and not been able to express. Brillant observation.

'To Whom It May Concern' by Adrian Mitchell

I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Heard the alarm clock screaming with pain,
Couldn't find myself so I went back to sleep again
So fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Every time I shut my eyes all I see is flames.
Made a marble phone book and I carved out all the names
So coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
So stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Where were you at the time of the crime?
Down by the Cenotaph drinking slime
So chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

You put your bombers in, you put your conscience out,
You take the human being and you twist it all about
So scrub my skin with women
Chain my tongue with whisky
Stuff my nose with garlic
Coat my eyes with butter
Fill my ears with silver
Stick my legs in plaster
Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Guardian obit:

Report from 15th Dec... "Animals"

We nearly had a brawl. It would've been over fast though. A room full of angry poets vs three drunk/stoned guys who were amusing themselves by trying to ruin it for everyone else. Animals, indeed. Jaco persuaded 'em to leave and then Dominique (older French guy, regular at the Cabaret Pop.) addressed what had gone on and restored the atmosphere. Before this tense near-fight, and after it, the night was good. Mirabelle and Martin brought us folk music on violin and cello. Michael chased 2 seals that leapt into a shipping container. Marianella enchanted us with her Dog Tale - a love affair with a dog, the tragedy of a dog-napping. Saskia spoke of eyes as good as the soul and practiced her Dutch and French accents. Thérèse took a Crabe avec les yeux tristes back to the seaside and a raconté l'histoire d'un chat qui s'appele Squirrel. Xander, wounded & half free, parted the tall dense weeds. Giéno dit que les oiseaux chantent dans son court. Elena was a Eudina girl living in Paris, where beauty trumps convenience every time. She aksed what was the proper attire for a punctured foot? a zombie by Monday morning. Leemore says you taste of sea salt, of the spray and splash of breaking rocks. Gave us a forgotten image of a girl, fingernails coated with soil.
Thanks for the photo and poems Christopher! and thanks to all others who came and read or supported us by being part of the night, not least Maxx, back in from Old London Town and Jaime with the faux-zebra skin bag in honour of the theme.

Rufo sends greetings & says:
In case you're interested my "everything I had to eat or drink in a week" piece has been published by an online journal in the US. Along with another food poem inspired by the Spoken Word evening.
You can find it at
then go under "New" then it's under my name.

Joan Brady sent us her Mouse Story from San Francisco:

I knew this woman once. She had a boa constrictor. I remember how she kept these live mice that she would feed it. Not every day though. Boa constrictors don't eat every day. At least that's what she said...Last time I saw her, it was maybe a year ago...I was with these people at her house and we were all drinking wine and smoking and talking and somehow she decided it was time to feet the boa so she went and she put this mouse inits cage and we all just stopped what we were doing and sat there and watched...At first nothing happened. The mouse, it just huddled over andkept real still...like it was frozen...and the boa, for awhile it acted as if therewas nothing there. Then all of a sudden it turned and in this one movement it took the whole mouse into its mouth, so that only the tail was left hangingout and then these muscular swallowing contractions started up and slowly,the mouse's tail began to disappear. When it was over, you could see this enlarged place inside the boa where the mouse was. Even now, when I think about it, I, it keeps coming back to me about how it was all so totally silent. From beginning to end, there was no sound, nothing...After it was over, we all talked about how we felt watching. You know, I was the only one in the room who identified with the mouse. The only god damn one.

-- J. R. Brady, San Francisco
She says: Piece was published last year in North Coast Literary Review. When I read it in the cafe's here there are mixed reactions. It tends to make some folks uncomfortable.

I read this, among other things: (loosely based on family history)

birds on the fells

he threw out and spun a lure
to a cast of hawks across the sky
off-hand said
‘see! this cascading stream in the fells is my grandfather
dead now
but listen!
he told his jokes
always with a straight face
yet now he chuckles
content that his words are for the wind
My mother sang here as a girl
her voice bright, soaking up the lakewater
It snowed when she was born
and grandad walked all night
She taught me the storytelling of rooks
and their clamour caught on my father’s tape recorder
The last rout of wolves laired about here
hunting the husks of hares
before the hoary old one, huge as a bear
was slain on the headland past Cartmel
That kettle of hawks you see
is seeking the hoard of mice in this scree
but it’s the owls that get them,
calling to each other in late night sittings,
the parliament of owls.’

Next SpokenWord is 5th January. And the theme? Clothes/les vêtements.
Merry Christmas & joyeux Noel!

SpokenWord needs you!

Please help us continue by downloading the bilingual poster and putting it up in a university, bookshop, student accomodation building, cafe, etc!
Just click on the miniature poster, top right of this page.

Food & drink: report from 1st December

That's Martin Neaga on cello. Later Betty Rojas improvised on a large box instrument whose name escapes me while I did Unspoken Words.
Sarah was in Berlin for Baader Meinhof days. Scott was on Quality Street. Soon you'll be able to see him from space. Maria performed extracts of Burns' Tam O'Shanter. Rufo listed everything he's eaten and drunk all week. Thanks to Marianela and everyone else who did stuff too.
Some other words about food and drink, especially jam.

In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, the White Queen, seeking to hire Alice, offers her 'jam to-morrow':

'I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the Queen said. 'Twopence a week, and jam every other day.'
Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, 'I don't want you to hire ME - and I don't care for jam.'
'It's very good jam,' said the Queen.
'Well, I don't want any TO-DAY, at any rate.'
'You couldn't have it if you DID want it,' the Queen said. 'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day.'
'It MUST come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' Alice objected.
'No, it can't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every OTHER day: to-day isn't any OTHER day, you know.'
Edward Lear's The Jumblies (extract):
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Next Spoken Word: "Animals" 15th Dec

Suzanne's poem she read

Suzanne's prize-winning poem for English teachers and waitresses/waiters everywhere...

Keep Them All

When you wait tables or teach, you don’t quit
one job for another. You keep them both,
keep them all because you need the money.

You skip a lot of meals because you're broke
or busy. You eat a lot of fast food and feel guilty
when you wait tables or teach. You don't quit

believing it will get better. You don't quit
drinking either. You drink and save up bottles,
keep them all because you need the money.

And you say you do it for the environment—
all that saving, reusing—you do it with people too.
When you wait tables or teach, you don’t quit

stockpiling lovers who ask nothing of you,
lovers you never leave and you never ask to stay.
Keep them all because you need the money.

Let them buy you dinner. Meet them for lunch.
Have sex. Keep living. Keep believing that
when you wait tables or teach, you don’t quit.
Keep them all because you need the money.

This won a prize in California Quarterly's annual competition. News from her:
"I just got word that I'm gonna be in a women's poetry anthology with Sharon Olds and Erica Jong! And many others, of course. My name isn't on the blurb but you can see it on their site... scroll down to "Not a Muse..." not quite half-way down the page... due out in March: http://www.havenbooksonline.com/ The "Dummies for Mummies" book looks intersting too!
They've accepted my Ginsberg knock-off, "Wail." An oldie but a goodie. Funny, I never submitted it anywhere else before this... and I'm not even sure it's done. But I had a little feeling about this match... just a little one guided by hope and smothered by fear of rejection--but a feeling none the less! More often I'm surprised by the poems editors "like," always sad for the unloved ones ;)
I'm not familiar with the press, but I love the name--Haven Books. And I don't know the editors either... better do a little research! Can't wait to see it!"

Report from 17th November (Work)

A packed night at the Cabarét Pop in Beautiful Belleville. I think what I like best is the insight poets and performers' stuff gives me into their interior worlds. Worlds richly different to my own. Maybe that's the first reason why I go to these things. Plus enjoying the language and the jokes - a lot of humour last night. And finally 'cos Spoken Word is becoming this party/social event.
So, the report:
Charly était en Amerique. Bonjour Frisco! Giéno? Il y a des gens qui vivent les vies qui ne sont pas les vies. Rufo, before his recent windfall, oiled his piston till it shone in the night. Aidan's been working away underground in borrowed words. He says the earth will seduce you. Amy's rusty flower snaps the lighter straps. Leemore gave us vignettes about bicycles & boys and went out with a song. Ellen's been trying to kick the other woman habit. Beverly performed extracts of her plays, asking 'What message are your shoes sending to the world?' Christophe n'a pas de souci et pas de sou. Or possibly pas dessous. Alexa - whose performance poems are on the Spoken Word blog - shook out her hair in full witchiness, getting raunchier with each verse. Peter & Armen were looking for hoovers. Sally had some cracking lines. The thing thing about men is, for them sex is like pizza. They're glad to get even cold pizza. Suzanne naomiwolfed us. Sarah's lexicon of the erotic blew out eardrums in Limehouse. Pauline mixed alcohol and teaching, suspected her students, et finalement elle s'est marriée pour les raisons fiscals. & Xander relived being 10 and scratching that itch, the first pre-sex sex. You wanna play highschool?
Thanks to all others who read & who I haven't jotted down impressions of.

More in 13 days!

Cold pizza, anyone?

Xander's blog:
If you want to read his piece on the pretend high school game, hassle him through his site to send you the link.

Cosy Biscuit by Roger McGough

A poem with a slightly skewed perspective on work...

Cosy Biscuit
What I wouldn’t give for a nine to five
Biscuits in the right hand drawer,
teabreaks, and typists to mentally undress.

The same faces. Somewhere to hang
your hat and shake your umbrella.
Cosy. Everything in its place.

Upgraded every few years. Hobbies
Glass of beer at lunchtime
Pension to look forward to.

Two kids. Homeloving wife.
Bit on the side when the occaision arises
H.P. Nothing fancy. Neat semi.

* * *

What I wouldn’t give for a nine to five.
Glass of beer in the right hand drawer
H.P. on everything at lunchtime

The same 2 kids. Somewhere to hang
your wife and shake your bit on the side.
Teabreaks and a pension to mentally undress

The same semifaces upgraded.
Hobbies every few years, neat typists
in wet macs when the umbrella arises.

What I wouldn’t give for a cosy biscuit.

3rd Nov... Edward, Michele & the crowd at the bar

Report from 3rd November... Furniture?

Photo: Ellen singing about bedbugs.
So what was it all about? More than 40 people, 21 poets 2 singers, one pickpocket. The pickpocket went through my jacket pockets but did not steal my biography of Rimbaud. No one got robbed. Got a good look at him though.

So what was it all about? Furniture.
Michael says a renter's gotta pay the rent. Rufo knows less than he used to, says to head nowhere special, hopes to uncouple hope from desire, his radio tuned to nothing. Genio était comdamné à rester au lit. Ton absence s'empechait de dormir. Une nuit foutu. Michele produced odes to sex in the Bottleshop, to Guantanamo, to Belleville. Suzanne missed the metro, following Colette in the middle of the night. Chase took the biological function of a flower & singed the epidermis of my soul. ''I want whipped cream with my slice of sky.'' Ellen sang Baby's Got Bedbugs but that maybe because she's a Difficult Woman. Leemore dragged in a crib and a bedframe for some quiet apprehensive love. Christopher was curious about a box. Stephanos set fire to his couch. Sally visited the Taj Mahal asleep and rose with Maya Angelou. Pour Jaco, tous ça c'est humain. À chacun son opium. Devant sa fenêtre le monde est pété. Didier a fait un réprise de Baudelaire. Lux, Calme et Volupté. Edward dipped into his world of furniture vocabulary, encountered Grindling Gibbon and furnished his mind. Thanks also to others who read or sang. Erica has gigs coming up I'll let you know about.

Thanks all for coming. By popular vote we're moving to an earlier time for the next one.

Spoken Word needs your support... 3 November

Here's the situation folks. Last week's Spoken Word was pretty quiet. We can only continue at Cabaret Populare if enough people actually turn up for November's dates (3rd and 17th). So if you want Spoken Word to carry on, now's a good time to show your support!

Themes: (not obligatory)
3rd November - poems, texts, stories, etc that include a piece of furniture
17th November - work

Cheers, all.


Went to London last weekend and caught a monthly night called The Cellar (photo above) at The Poetry Cafe, Betterton Rd, Covent Garden... Real high quality poetry - I mean the artistic level of it was something else - and an older crowd.
The weekly open mic here is supposed to be the way into the heart of the London spoken word scene. Very friendly place too. Pity it looks like a museum cafe or a classroom.
Went drinking afterwards with some of the poets and thought about how different the London scene is from Paris. They have all these magazines and stuff going on. They know all these poetry & spoken word minor celebrities. They drink more than us. (Except that night I was falling off my chair.) But they don't have the intimacy and closeness of the Paris scene.
One of the most amazing things was talking to this bloke who stuttered then seeing him go up on stage - he lost his stutter completely when he performed his stuff and was brilliant.

Sunday I went to One Taste, a kind of cabaret night. 5 different acts who do 2 short sessions each. Mostly music including the weirdly beautiful songs of The Moulettes. (Little mussels??) who would feel right at home in Paris' post punk cabaret scene. Or Brighton. www.myspace.com/moulettes The reason I went though was to catch my Reading friend a.f.harrold who performed at Spoken Word nearly 2 years ago and is a kind of rising star of performance poetry. He's the very tall guy with the long ginger beard. Very effective. A bath is a boat with the water on the inside...
Hmmm. Do I wish I lived in London and was part of the poetry scene there? I'm certainly tempted. That could be me on those stages! Me I tell ya! But the lifestyle is just so much better here...

il faut se méfier les mots

6th October was our first night at Le Cabaret Populaire, Belleville. A lot more French poets - which was great. The theme was loosely Intoxication. Began with Fanfan, for whom nous sommes des faites divers. I had a 2 a.m. high then got lost. Doudou dreamed of his neighbour. Ellis'champagne sent a big fuck you, a conversation creator & tongue loosener. Jacko did his ''not joy text'' because Paris Hilton a compris le sense de la vie. Leemore wanted to Wake UP! and looked good dancing with a childlike ambition to kiss you. Dana pounded the keyboard and sung some crazy stuff I can't read in my notes, but it looks like ''atrophy unspoken from Parkslope, Brooklyn.'' Thomas was in Calcutta. Dona D. Leter was toxic. Christopher was mad, bad and dangerous to know. Didier produced an Albatros. Amy Ireland wandered round the palace of Kublai Khan. Maxx watches as each moment unfolded. Epiphany in the artifical night.
Apologies to any errors or incompleteness in this, I just can't read my scribbled notes.
We wound down to a few new songs from Erica and headed for the last metros.
Cabaret Populaire - a good atmosphere, cheap beer & crepes. Should also be less hot next time as the air conditioning system should be switched on sooner.
Be back there, 9.30 Monday 20th October from 9.30... theme (optional - off topic stuff welcome) is Apocalypse.
More of Dana's stuff here:
And I finally created my own spoken word myspace:
at which you can listen to 6 poems, but not these 2:
The 2 a.m. high
This is the 2 a.m. high
when the world is strange

mind fireworking
too luminous with ideas to sleep

afterhours, afteryears
cramped-up in your head
suddenly you’re let out

you’re taking a walk across the grounds
a crazy escaped from the long-stay ward
all electric skin & fire-in-the-head
the cool wet grass under your feet
your hospital pyjamas flapping in the wind
eyes bulging with Now
hands flexing
to caress or strangle

the lover left behind on the bed
you know how it is
(they’ll keep)
while you live the 2 a.m. high
stalk the room
touch the chill of the night through the unshut glass
& the house floods with the dark words and images pouring
out of you like tea through a colander

after the what-are-you-gonna-do-now,
that pressure-cooker prison
when the days were dull as dishwater
and you, closed up, in the motorway café of your soul
to not see how dismal the world was

that was then, this
is how
you’ve learned the location of joy
discovered that that half-dodged despair was not the final Revelation
because this is the 2 a m high, and you

you can tightrope-walk between worlds
side-step time
light the blue touch paper to your life and retire

You’re too alive to sleep tonight!
You’re off again!
through that Alice’s rabbit hole, the 2 a.m. high

let’s get lost

your voice – melting butter & honey on toast
Naked, warm as breakfast
your breasts the sea and your sweat as salty,
and as for the tang of that other taste!
whenever you look at me so young & soft, close up
or with eyes that know & mind ticking
I touch how it could be –
we blur
I come home in you
a book opens like a door at the top of the stairs
I hold you curled up like a cat
purring with warmth or woundedness
Or is it the other way round?

Report from The Highlander 24th September

A friendly gathering to kick off the new season of Spoken Word. Joanna brought Flowers for You and A Breath of May before Driving Backwards in Paris. Rufo's monks left no trace in Iceland, setting off in their coracles for suicide or sanctity. His city belongs to drag queens. Thomas carried out a Soft Revolution. He's only an Innocent Boy who Wanted to do a Bad Thing before he dies. Dona D. Leter told us in the language of Moliere (who would've been a slam poet if he could) how it is to be in a crypt, improvised 2 slam poems on the spot and exhorted us to speak more French! Adrian gave a riposte and read various things before ending with a Cosy Biscuit.I was Addicted to Words, as always.
It was a good night. Some 25 people, not bad for the first of the season. Great to catch up with everyone who came, including Sophia who's off to La Reunion and James who survived a plane crash this summer. And above all it was great to be reminded why these nights are important - to see someone alone on the stage reading poetry that has touched them, or even that they've written themselves, in a space where everyone wants to hear what they have to say. Yeah!
Sadly missed: Neil Uzzell, now in Chicago. Conrad & Charlie, now in Cambridge.
Missing in action: Conor Quinn. If you see this man, possibly walking a large Brazilian dog, you are advised to contact the relevant authorities.

Un nouveau espoir!

L'heure 9h30, le date le 24 septembre

O children of Byron and Shelley, poets are the unrecognised legislators of the world!

Avant le démenagement à Belleville, un dernier Spoken Word dans le cave du Highlander (8 rue de Nevers, Métro Pont-Neuf/Odéon/St Michel.) Le thème: la poèsie, soi-même! Faites tous que vous pouvez avec ça, vous enfants de Byron, Shelley, Baudelaire et Rimbaud!

Les poètes sont les législateurs du monde pas reconu!


The Ogre is dead! Long live the Cabaret Populaire!

Poetry/la poèsie 9h30 Wednesday/mercredi 24 octobre à The Highlander

"...a flawed character. Greatly talented, passionate, full of venomous distaste for society and social institutions, lacking all respect for rank and privilege. Thwarted in love by social constraint or death, condemned to exile for rebellion. Hides an unsavoury past. Arrogant, overconfident, lacking foresight. Ultimately, acts in a self-destructive manner."
What better role model could you ask for?
Spoken Word returns to The Highlander (8 rue de Nevers) for a last time before decamping to Belleville.
Theme: poetry (itself!)/la poèsie.
Make of that what you will, Byron's children.

Spoken Word is lying on a beach somewhere, dangling its toes in the turquoise sea until September.

It may return to Paris at short notice for excursions to Culture Rapide/Cabaret Populaire at http://www.culturerapide.com/index2

The Journey... June 24th at The Highlander

Conrad's last night... Kayla read a "real short poem I wrote when I was 17"... Brett had fierce September hair, stood in the fireplace of classical guitars... Jen read from Candide, about a Paris all too recognisable... Yara was herself entirely... Joanna laughed with joys nothing here holds... Brenda was circled by Rimbaud's albatross and Neil had an NDE (near death experience) out on the rooves above Paris, keyless, having clumb out through a skylight only to hear the latch lock shut behind him... I was addicted to words.
And Conrad? His parting words were by way of counsell: Swallow the moon. Dance till you drop. Watch out for steak knives in the metro.

yet more underground poetry

more cataphile photos [not catamite; that's another site you're thinking of]

Journey to the centre of the Earth: photos from the last catacombs trip... at last!

The Journey/Voyage/The Quest

9pm Tuesday 24th June at The Highlander. 8 rue de Nevers Metro Pont Neuf/Saint Michel.

Poems, stories, monologues, dialogues, songs, etc. sought for the next Spoken Word. Off-topic stuff also welcome.

Fragments you've collected, insights, dreams, tales, accounts of what you've gained or lost on the way... life is a journey; those who swim against the tide of time are lost, they retain nothing and regret it in the end.

Voyage. Amenez tous les textes vous pouvez trouvez avec un lien sur le sujet, ou meme sans lien... vos textes ou les textes des autres que vous aimez... et que vous allez lire et interpretre! Les histoires, les reves, les fragments disparus, les carnets de voyage, les chansons... tous!

21h mardi le 24 juin


Bex sails to Byzantium

In a weird room carved with faces, having waded through flooded tunnels, seen bones, and flowstone, yellow stalactites the colour of nicotine-stained fingers, passages whose rooves were held up with Victorian wood swallowed by calcification & the permanent drip of limestone, two hours underground after the abandoned railway tunnel we found... Bex, reading a poem.

Tom waits for Donald Tournier & rattles his bones

...there's a world going on underground.

Me... burning sugar somewhere under the 14th arrondissement

God, so that's what I sound like.

The Catacombs: Donald Tournier goes underground...

...and finds true love cowering at the bottom of wells, dank air heavy with humidity, the lungs of the world, hermits drinking from underground rivers, who'd gone white as ghosts hiding from the light of day, poetry living off the mud of dank pits...

No Tell Motel - Monday/lundi 19th May

In English...
Spoken Word and The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel Second Floor anthology invite you to a poetry reading from the anthology followed by an open mic on the theme of Eros, desire, sex & sensuality.
Monday, May 19th 8pm downstairs at the Highlander, 8, rue de Nevers, (southwest of Pont Neuf) Métro Saint Michel ou Pont Neuf.
En français...
Spoken Word et l'anthologie ''The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel Second Floor'' vous invitent au soirée de poésie commençant par un lecture de textes de l'anthologie par les poètes eux-mêmes, en anglais, suivi par un scène ouvert sur le thème de Éros, désir, sexe et sensualité.
Lundi, 19 mai 20h au cave à The Highlander, 8, rue de Nevers, Métro Saint Michel ou Pont Neuf.
20h00 No Tell Motel anthology Readings by the poets (in English)/Lecture par les poètes de l'anthologie en anglais
21h00 Open mic/scène ouvert (bilangue anglais-français)
(17h-20h Happy Hour: come early and have a drink with the No Tell Motel poets)
More info:
A double-bill poetry reading to celebrate spring, agape, and eros featuring poets Evie Shockley, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Lea Graham, and Timothy Bradford from The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, Second Floor anthology (No Tell Books, 2007) followed by an open mic with David Barnes and the Spoken Word reading series. The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel, Second Floor, edited by Reb Livingston and Molly Arden from poems that appeared on their on-line journal No Tell Motel http://www.notellmotel.org/, explores the multi-faceted aspects of desire, love, sex, and sensuality. The anthology and No Tell Books can be found at <http://www.notellbooks.org/individual_title.php?id=40_0_1_0_C>. A link to the anthology at Lulu, which offers an online preview, can be found at <http://www.lulu.com/content/1191170>. BIOS: * Evie Shockley is the author of two poetry collections: The Gorgon Goddess (2001) and a half-red sea (2006), both with Carolina Wren Press. A Cave Canem fellow and the recipient of a residency at Hedgebrook retreat center for women writers, Shockley teaches African American literature and creative writing at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. * Jill Alexander Essbaum's first book, Heaven, won the 1999 Bakeless Prize. Her second book, Oh Forbidden, is a collection of erotic sonnets (Pecan Grove Press). Her latest book, Harlot, is available from No Tell Books. A fourth book, Necropolis, (neoNuma Arts), is forthcoming in spring 2008. She splits her time between Zürich, Switzerland, and the States.* Lea Graham's work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Notre Dame Review, American Letters & Commentary, Mudlark, Shadow Train, and The Worcester Review. Her chapbook, Calendar Girls, was published in the spring of 2006 by above/ground Press in Ottawa. She is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. * Timothy Bradford's poetry has appeared in Bombay Gin, CrossConnect, DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, Mudlark, No Tell Motel, and Runes, among other journals. Currently, he is an associate foreign researcher with the Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent as he finishes researching and writing a novel based on the history of the Vélodrome d'Hiver. AT: The Highlander, 8 rue de Nevers, just southwest of the Pont Neuf, 75006, Metro St-Michel. (Happy hour from 5-8. Come early and have a glass with us.)

Report from 23rd April

Photos: Colin, Thérèse, Joy... crazy guy & poet (help me out - identify yourselves)

The City
Anne gave us Kabul. Charlie had seen it all before, a case of Déjà Vu. Giémo took us to meet La Ville Amante, à la fois proche et absente and introduced us to Denise, the richest SDF in Paris. Didier invoked Alfred de Mussy. Thérèse had lunch at the McDo de Bobigny (qui vous dit merci) and rescued a crab in destin de crabbe. Colin wasn't there, he was in Seville. Bex begged to differ, arguing people are everything, it's never the place. Donald headed off drunkenly to The Crimson City of the North. Conor gave him increasingly frantic misdirections - just drive through the hospital and up the traffic lights. Alex' ghosts were on a countdown to death. Robert Teetsov sang and Chris Fowle was filled with foreboding. An anglicized Colin took the Last train to Barnsley. Marco Polo and Ghenghis Khan showed up, discoverer and collector of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. Erica sang form the point of view of Achilles, all dipped in glory except for the heel. Alexa left on the underground train, observing that the metroline you take is obviously the one that is going to fuck up most. Charlie got up shot. Ben Slatky did Shaunessey's Over the Moon. Conor threw canibal ink into the night sky. And I slowly turned 37.
Lots more people did stuff, too numerous to mention. And there were so many people they were backed up the stairs in the first half.


So much going on I've had no time to report about the last 2 Spoken Words - lots of good stuff lined up to put here when I have time though. Next Spoken Word is 9pm Tuesday 13th May at L'Ogre a Plumes, theme to be confirmed. (Please email me suggestions!)

And in the mean time Spoken Word regulars Erica & Stefanos are doing a free concert at the Pop In 9pm this Wednesday (7th May); Erica was also briefly mentioned in Telerama and her myspace is:
The Pop In

105 rue Amelot
75011, Paris
Entree libre/ Free!
Metro Saint Sebastien Froissart

The Great Lurch Forward...

Would you take a train with this man? Not bleedin' likely...

Followed by Elena, Pauline, Donald and a very Satanic looking Antonio... the Devil's Undertaker.
Thanks to Dominic for the title and half the photos.

Undertakers' convention... at the Extra Old Cafe after disembarking

Bex gets my vote for "Most likely to be in A Clockwork Orange."

The Great Lurch Forward... photos 1

Seldon, Pauline, Raskolnikov, the Eiffel Tower, Neil, and Raskolnikov again, escaped from a Dostoyevski novel...

Slough by John Betjeman

I grew up near Slough and Maidenhead. Even The Lonely Planet's guidebook to England tells you "Don't go there." I'm with Betjeman. Note he wrote this just prior to World War Two.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs, and blow to smithereens
Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town --
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week for half-a-crown
For twenty years,

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears,

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sports and makes of cars
In various bogus Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Night Mail by W.H.Auden


3 extracts:

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.
Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

William Topaz McGonagall

Poet and tragedian of Dundee, has been widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language... A self-educated hand loom weaver from Dundee, he discovered his discordant muse in 1877 and embarked upon a 25 year career as a working poet, delighting and appalling audiences across Scotland and beyond.
I nicked this from http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."
When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."
But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.
So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

There's a lot more, believe me.

The Great Lurch Forward

There were no flies on Frank. Pulled out of Nation just after 9 as I read The Tay Bridge Disaster, by the poet "widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language," William Topaz McGonagall. (Topaz????) Donald was on the night train. Wanda sang. Elena did Le releve du monde and cooked us up L'oeuf metaphysique. In Spanish, the next station was hope. Alexa laughed at passers by's I'm-going-to-Hell-judgement. Dominic Ambrose read an extract from his book The Shriek and Rattle of Trains. Bex's nature and machine exist together. Chai! Chai! in Nine and half hours to Hampi. Thank God I'm not blonde. Thomas woke up red-eyed, read his Metro Love Letter, declared the metro is the place we all know each other by smell, each guessing the other's intention. Neil & his guitar heard that train a-coming, coming down the tracks. But then he's a Molotov cocktail, baby I'm an anarchist. Seldon was I, racing to trains West. Nila asked why is it that when you see someone that's interesting to you on the metro, why is it rude to look at them? Then she analysed his face. Donald reminded us that Paris a oublié que il était bâtard. À nous, Paris, declared Alexa, à nous des bottes à 2.000 euros. Bex was inspired by an earlier Spoken Word, inspired but she was tired. She wanted a poet, who just might (lick behind her ears.) Frank where are you? There were no flies on Frank, according to the ghost of John Lennon. Other people did stuff too. I insulted Slough and rolled out some boxcars boxcars boxcars from Ginsberg's Howl. The Eiffel Tower glittered. We rolled around Etoile and headed back to Nation where we disembarked and went for a drink at The Extra Old Cafe. No arrests! No fights with buskers! Applause and general appreciation from metronauts (once they realized we weren't asking for money and relaxed...). Only one phone call the next day from poets who missed the train and headed round the whole circuit of the line 6 on their own.
The Shriek and Rattle of Trains, by Dominic, details here:
Lines from Howl:
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,

who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish...